--> divine angst: voting Catholic

Thursday, September 09, 2004

voting Catholic

Morning Edition on NPR had a piece this morning about Catholics being given permission to vote for candidates who support abortion rights without the act of voting for that person being a grave sin.

Frankly, the Catholics I know who are worried about the various and sundry things their bishops "permit" them to do are not the ones who also want to vote for John Kerry. I was pleased to hear that a Catholic priest and theology professor at Notre Dame felt the same way.

Maybe I've been away from the Catholic Church for too long, but this morning it struck me how odd and alien the even theoretical structure of the church is (when it comes to those on the bottom rungs, the parishioners). The men and women who tithe their money to pay for programs and buildings and priests' salaries are supposed to also be subject to letters and memos from their bishops, archbishops, and cardinals, telling them what is the appropriate behavior in any number of situations.

So let's imagine a small group Catholics, sitting in their pews, agonizing over the upcoming election—they feel the war in Iraq is bad or badly run, they oppose the death penalty, they feel strongly about social justice and social programs. In other words, they dont' want to vote for GWB. But John Kerry supports abortion rights. To be "true" and "good" Catholics, they have to then vote against their consciences.

It's all moot anyway. The Catholics who are most concerned about what their bishop allows them to do and not to do are the same ones who believe that abortion is the greatest evil our nation is facing today—because that's what the Church has told them. I wish the Church would start looking at some other issues that are related and important—like the death penalty, which John Paul II opposes and our current president heartily endorses. Or human rights violations, or child abuse, or even the ever-increasing divorce rate. These are all social issues Catholics should have a strong opinion on. But the issue they focus the most on? Abortion.